Our top five tips on keeping your DPF clean


In today’s world of ever tightening emissions regulations, diesel particulate filters (DPFs) have become common place to help keep those dirty diesels rolling off the production line. Without them, many diesel engines would have been retired in the light of Euro 5 & 6 emissions standards.

DPFs may well be great for the environment but the cost of DPF regenerations, repairs and replacement can run up eye watering bills (a lesson we’ve learnt first hand!).

So what can you do to keep your DPF filter trouble free and your wallet intact? Here’s our top five tips on keeping your DPF clean and trouble free.

1. Drive Faster

Contrary to popular belief, driving faster could actually save you money in the long run. DPF regenerations can only occur when certain conditions are met such as speed, RPM and engine temperature. Unless all the conditions are met, the DPF regeneration process will not start and you’ll be one step closer to a costly dealer regen (trust me I know from experience).

Do your homework, find out how fast you need to drive, for how long and at what RPM. Your dealer might not want to give you this information so we’d recommend reaching out to the online community and owners clubs for this.

2. Use the right Oil

Choosing the right oil for your car is vital to ensuring your engine produces as little diesel particulate matter as possible. Always try and use the manufacturer approved engine oil. Most manufacturers specify a low SAPS oil which is specifically designed to be low in Sulphated Ash. This is a by-product of diesel combustion that causes the DPF “mesh” to become be blocked.

3. Get your EGR valve checked

Over time EGR valves can become blocked with the soot and carbon they are designed to recirculate.  This in turn can cause the device to stick open or open for longer than it should, increasing particulates, soot and carbon to to be fed back into the engine.

A faulty EGR valve should illuminate the engine warning light but if you have experienced DPF issues in the past we’d suggest that you have it looked at before any further costly DPF regenerations.

DPF Cleaners At Amazon

4. Keep out of town

The start stop nature of urban driving is one of the biggest reasons many drivers experience DPF issues. Short distances, low speeds and the start stop nature of driving built up areas can make it near impossible to replicate the conditions needed for an active or passive DPF regeneration.

Try and mix in some some faster and less congested roads to maximise the chance of a regeneration (See 1.)

5. Buy the right car!

My rather unpleasant and expensive experience with the DPF in my 2.0dci Nissan Qashqai seemed to hit a chord with my fellow “Urban Proof” owners. The Qashqai owners clubs were rife with the very same issue again and again, suggesting that some marques are more susceptible to DPF issues than others. Before you start looking for your next oil burner we’d suggest doing some digging and asking one of the many online owners clubs and forums for their experiences. Taking into account your driving habits it may well be better to opt for another model or even the petrol powered alternative.

6. Get clued up!

OK, I know I said top five but if you’ve found this page then you’ve already either experienced issues or are having DPF issues. You’re in good hands so why not check out our other DPF resources and get clued up, we’d suggest you take a look at the following pages:

We’d love to hear your tips for keeping your DPF in check, feel free to leave a comment below.




Karl is the editor and owner of this glorious website. He currently writes for numerous environmental websites, producing content for the greater good. His experience in graphic design, Wordpress and all things automotive have helped sculpt Hypermiler.co.uk into its current form from very humble beginnings. He has numerous IT qualifications, a red belt in Taekwondo and likes craft Ales. Get in touch via our Contact Page

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38 comments on “Our top five tips on keeping your DPF clean
  1. Sue Lacey says:

    If my main journeys are short and local, how often should I take my car for a good run to regenerate the particulate filter?

    • Dave Howard says:

      Hi Sue

      Did you ever get a reply on this one. I’ve been looking for an answer to your question for a while now and no one seems able (willing?) to give an opinion.


      • Antonio says:

        Same here, I’ve been looking for that answer and no one seems to know yet.

        • Karl says:

          Hi Guys

          It really depends from car to car really. All I can suggest is that you regularly meet the conditions required for a DPF regen. You might need to consult your main dealer to find out the rev / speed etc or you’re just waisting fuel.

          Also remember that if the DPF sensors deem that a DPF burn isn’t required then it won’t do one for the sake of it even if you’ve got into the state where one can be performed.

          If you’re mainly using your car for local short trips then you’ll need to attempt a “regen / burn” run more regularly.

          Sorry we can’t be more specific but it really does depend on a lot of factors.

    • Richard says:

      Anytime the cart requires regeneration look for the signs!

    • Aldo says:

      Sue, This particulate filter business is a real rip off! I bought my car and wasn’t aware that one had to have particular driving habits, which if not met, it would mean regular trips to the service station, the very thing you intended to avoid after buying a new car or at least you thought. In my case, I’ve already been to the shop twice in two months, the car has 300 km on the odometer, it had 100 the first time in. I love the car, but I might have to decide whether to give up my long term rental and maybe buy an older car without a particulate filter. I can’t change my driving habits, it’s outrageous that I would have to adapt my way of life (it wouldn’t be just changing habits…) to accommodate the car industry bureaucrats. It’s REALLY outrageous that the very things that are supposed make the ambient cleaner and your life easier is working the reverse. yes, according to some people this very same filter is supposed to clean and help clean the air, instead it creates smaller and invisible dangerous dust! Sorry for the rambling.

  2. Carl says:

    There are many other issues that lead to DPF blocking, let me highlight the more common ones:-
    Drive cycle, how you use and drive your car. It’s not driving faster, but in lower gears to achieve higher engine speeds. A good passive regen will take place at engine speeds of 2-3k RPM.
    EGR being clocgged, this increases the door produced and may cause the EGR to stick open….not what the DPF wants to regen.
    Pressure sensors – if the sensor has failed then the ECU has no idea of what the pressure is.
    Temp sensors – very common issue. Again if faulty the DPF will not go into regen.
    Injectors – the injector is in a very hostile environment and using the right fuel is important.
    Oil – majorly important “LOW ASH” is typically the requirement as well as the actual grade of oil. It’s not a place to penny pinch either. Also extended service intervals do not help. I’d recommend ideally 10k or less for change interval and using BG109 as an engine cleaner at each oil change is proven to extend the effective life of engine oil, also reducing blow-by through piston rings sticking.

    A lot of DPF solutions that just clean the DPF are not effective, as the issue often lay else where and not remedying that will cause the DPF to block again.

    True there are a number of other factors but I have spent 20 years in and around the motor trade and have travelled the country and I guess the world being trained. I do share my knowledge and know how with the trade. (This is not an advert for my services).

    Happy motoring all.

  3. Milan Zuscik says:

    Hello, I have a Toyota Avensis 2.2 D 130 kilowatts cat, smoke exhaust me 90% driving the engine is warm.At diagnosis they found nothing and the light is off, too. In toytotě- service they told me that it is probably corrupted PDF and fuel is burned to the filter PDF diagnosis and therefore did not find anything. It was rumored that some filter powders or Leaking fuel and gets behind the PDF and therefore smoking. Possible? Why the light is off? Diagnosis did not find anything? Goes somehow instrumental fifth injection into the exhaust cancel? Thank Zuscik-

  4. I have slow acceleration response could it be mass air flow sensor or particulate filter car is a kia and is driven at regulation speeds

  5. D Ness says:

    Best advice every one stop buying diesel cars then this will force manufacturers to do more to help as all you hear is the dpf is not under warranty so it’s time for the motorist to Stop buying diesel cars and leave the manufacturers with cars no one wants . Salesmen don’t ask what type of driving you do they are only after a sale no information about the dpf . I have now changed to petrol and won’t buy diesel car again and the worst thing now is purchasing a used diesel car there is no way of finding out the dpf history so you are more than likely to be purchasing someone else’s nightmare so if you don’t want to be out of pocket buy a Petrol car

  6. John Oleary says:

    Toyota D4D 30 ooo miles had gas egr issues (black smoke and 5 less mpg) After some research I declined Toyota’s kind offer of a mew EGR valve for £1000 and stripped the unit down I cleanesd it with Carburettor cleaner and a piece of wood Put it all back and it is perfect
    I now co this every service and no problems Total cost £3 and an hours work

  7. Ulpian says:

    Carl is right. You don’t have to drive fast but you do need to drive long enough for the engine to get hot, and keep the engine running if, when you stop, you hear the DPF burning. It will stop automatically when it has finished and you will know this because of the quieter tone from the engine and a slight reduction in revs. Change the oil regularly and always use top grade fuels. And avoid supermarket fuel at all costs, only buy the best. And make sure your engine has the DPF built into the exhaust system near the cylinder head, so that it gets hot quickly and can regenerate during shorter journeys. Remember, Diesels are not at all suitable for town only driving.

  8. Keith Sheffield says:

    My dpf in my Dacia sandero step way clogged up after only 5000 miles . Had.to pay £1000 to have it fixed. Dacia are a terrible company to deal with Dacia washed their hands of the problem I am taking them to court ! Will never buy another diesel even tho I drive on motorways regularly definitely not Dacia . They are fucking scum!

  9. Dave says:

    Another tip is stop using cheap Deisel, I am in the motor trade myself and see no end of cars coming in with stuck egr valves due to poor quality (supermarket) deisel! I run and Audi A4 2.0 tdi! When I bought the car the egr was stuck and I knew this was the case so I asked the seller where he filled up! Oh I use the supermarket down the road(the one there is more reasons to shop at) do I bought the car cleaned out all the egr pipes and valve itself the filled up with shell vpower Deisel! Had the car for 2 years now and no issues whatsoever!! Now although my car doesn’t have a dpf I know that just keeping the egr clean is very important !!

    • Paul Anderson says:

      Completely agree. Supermarket fuel is cheap for a reason. I’ve used branded fuel for the last thirty years. My diesel preference is to go top notch and use BP Ultimate or Shell V-Power. I have not yet had a car fail an emissions test so there is definitely some merit to premium fuel.

  10. Louise says:

    Hi, I had to have my dpf replaced a couple of months ago at huge cost. My car has just started showing signs again (low power, revving wrong, etc)…pretty frustrating as it was only March when I had it replaced. I do a fair amount of relatively short journies on country lanes so sometimes the speed is good, some times not so much! I do a motorway journey about once a week of at least 40 mins. Again, usually I can maintain a decent speed. It’s off to have an MOT in 2 days but have some driving to do tomorrow and worried it might not make it, or the warning light will come on (which it hasn’t yet). Any quick solutions/suggestions?

    • Chris J says:

      Have the car checked out for other component failures, which may not immediately be linked to the DPF, but are likely to cause the car to never reaching the optimum running conditions required for a DPF Regeneration. Some things to get checked out, are the Glow Plugs, Coolant Thermostat, Engine Fan and EGR Valve. There are also two pressure sensors at either side of the DPF, and these are very prone to failure on most models of cars.

      • Joe Smith says:

        I thought Glow Plugs were only for starting when cold. How would they affect DPF regeneration?

        • Paul Anderson says:

          Many ECUs will run the glow plugs during regeneration simply to get the combustion chamber temperature as high as possible. This has the knock on effect of increasing the exhaust gas temperature. Some cars also bypass the intercooler during regeneration for the same reason. My 2001(Y) Peugoet 406 2.2 HDi (yes, it did have a DPF way back in 2001!) used both these tricks during DPF regeneration.

  11. Kyle O'Ren says:

    I didn’t know that driving faster could do anything to help keep my DPF clean. I’ve always been told that reducing and maintaining speed is best over all for any vehicle. I’ll have to look up how fast I need to go and what conditions to meet to achieve DPF regen. Thanks for the tip!

    • Christopher says:

      The dpf filter has got to get very hot to clean it, so the best way to clean it is doing between 2500 and 3000 revs in thired gear for apbout 30 min’s

    • Paul Anderson says:

      Definitely true of all cars, whether DPF equipped or not. Nannying and nursing an engine can lead to all sorts of emissions and running issues. Just be gentle during warm up. After that you can largely do as you like. Visiting the red line will not do any damage. Sure, you’ll pay for it at the pumps, but that’s all.

  12. andrew nicholson says:

    Interesting site, I have a pug 308 and when I accelerate in 3rd gear car get goes into limp mode to the point that it will conk out. 1&2nd gear ok. Then goes back to normal next day or so. Not sure if dpf contributing to this

  13. Chris J says:

    If you suffer from regular blocking problems with the DPF, then other faults elsewhere can cause the car to not reach its optimum running conditions, meaning that the DPF regeneration conditions are never met, and so a regeneration fails to ever take place. Things to check are the EGR Valve, Coolant Thermostat, Glow Plugs and of course the sensors on each side of the DPF, which are probably more likely to have failed than the DPF itself.

  14. Intriguing site, I have any pug 308 when I accelerate inside 3rd gear car get switches into limp mode to the level that it can conk out. 1&2nd products ok. Then extends back to normal overnight or so Uncertain if dpf causing this

    • Kevin Devine says:

      I have a Vauxhall insignia 2.0 diesel Techline, 63 plate. I bought the car 12 months ago with 40,000 on the clock. Continual problems with ‘service soon’ warning light coming on, and car going into ‘limp mode’. Final straw was when car went into ‘limp mode’ when I was travelling at 70 mph overtaking on the A1. Halford’s auto centre at Crewe flushed the DPF at £60. I switched from Supermarket diesel to Shell V Power (extra cost £4.50 per tank), and add a bottle of DMax every third fuel refill. Absolutely no problems since moving to V Power + DMax. No ‘service soon’ on the display., and car performance and mpg improved noticeably
      Kev D

  15. doug horne says:

    I drive a 2009 Vauxhall Insignia CDTI which, if I don’t take it for a half hour motorway thrash once a month, will go into limp home mode. I get no warning lights on the dash at all. I have discovered that if I then take it on the motorway I can burn off sufficient soot/ash to allow a local garage to reset it out of limp mode, by telling the computer that it has a new dpf fitted. I then have to take it for another motorway trip to regenerate it. The local garage charges me half an hour labour for this. I have had to do this about four times in about three years. Gets quite hairy joining the motorway at 40 mph in limp mode, but is better than the standing regeneration that the main dealer would do.

  16. Dan says:

    i do a lot of short trips and school runs. I drive a BMW X5 and i’ve started to get the dpf sign on my dashboard. Someone suggested me to use wynn’s dpf cleaner every now and then and take the car for a full blast in the motorway once or twice a month. Are these chemical useful or waste of money?

  17. Anonimo says:

    I have a VW TDI 2.0 with 65220k miles with the dieselgate fix applied, so now regenerates every 180-200miles. Even doing 120 miles on weekends above 60mph on motorway, it doesn’t regenerate. It usually does the same day of the week while city driving, performing an active regeneration. I have to drive with sport mode and above the speed limits. I’m a little tired of this and if you say the DPF normally dies in about 70k miles I’m a little bit worried…

  18. Dan c says:


    I have an infiniti that was having dpf problems and going into limp mode.
    I had a terraclean done and this worked for a while but due to no motorway runs it happened again. I took back to terraclean garage and was told need new Dpf.

    Please take my advice and try Archoil ar9400 dmax
    It’s expensive but I swear by my word it works and I use every 5k miles no problems since.

    Archoil is a miracle in a bottle for Dpf Egr clean.
    It’s from the states but can be bought on amazon for around £30 bargain

  19. ian duncan says:

    Urban driving isn’t good for DPF. However, the best cure for DPF problems is a good high revving journey (keep in fourth gear) of about 10 miles. London?, no chance,,therefore, the cure is revving the engine above 2500RPM for about half an hour on your driveway..

  20. Michaela Stefan says:

    Hi beautiful ppl. I am nearly suicidal & need help. I drive an 2013 Subaru outback I had issues with it and can not sell atm. The DPF has been replaced and oil replaced and everything reset it worked for 3 months and than back to blinking again I do not know what else to do. I drove 25 min on hwy at 90- 110km/hr except 2 days I had to go in the city. Do not know what to do really? My daughter suggested it might be a sensor as DPF is practically new replaced! Please help. If anyone has more ideeas would be so appreciated.Thank you!

  21. Ian says:

    I use a Ford Transit Connect for door to door delivery. Needless to say the DPF got blocked. Van went into limp mode. Fortunately my brother in law runs a garage. He managed to unbolt the section of exhaust its housed in and blasted the filter with his air line to displace excesse soot. Then I had to drive at high revs until the ECU decided all is well and returned the van to normal performance. That too 250 miles to accomplish keeping revs at 3000+ at all times! If you’re doing lots of urban and stop/start driving then keep in lowest gears at all times. Really put your foot down hard in 1st and 2nd gears especially. You have to keep that engine and exhaust system as hot as possible to burn the soot off passively and take it out for a 30 miles blast at constant speed/revs once a week to get the regen cycle kicking in. I also used a bottle of Wynns DPF cleaner fluid which you add to min of 40+ litres of fuel which I think helped. It makes the soot burn at a lower temperature which will definitely help to passively burn it off at normal operating temperatures around the town theoretically. It was no fun driving for 250 miles at 50-60mph in 3rd and 4th gear for 3 days but things got gradually better and over the last 100 miles and a good hard accellerarion in 1st and second gear seemed to blast the last of the crap out of tge system and things suddenly came back to life. Limp mode and warning message went away and after another 60 miles the EML went off as well. The van drives like a rocket now. Ive had it 18 months second hand and its never driven so well so must’ve always been heavily sooted to some extent. The secret is to keep things hot and keep those revs high plus good clean oil and I tgink I’ll be using the Wynns fluid regularly as well. It recommends 1 bottle every 3 tanks of fuel but at £10 a bottle maybe not that often. Its been a steep learning curve to say the least! Look after the DPF..!!!

  22. Paul says:

    I have a toyota auris 2.2 d-cat sr 180 due to dpf issues i thought about dpf removal and a economy map what would be the implications of haveing it done car is 2009 reg 117,000 miles

  23. George says:

    Every month or so give your diesel car an Italian tune up. Go out when the roads are quiet and rip the luggs off it. Mine runs much smoother after a good thrashing.

  24. Trotts says:

    I have a VW Jetta 2 liter diesel MY12 was ok until recall then dog problems. Eventually dealer told me if dpf light came on to take car on open road and select a gear (4) sport auto and drive at 3500 rpm (110 klm) until dpf light went out. So far this has worked. Need to travel 20-25 klm to complete regen. DPF needs to achieve 600c min to do an active burn

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